Is Elijah Verhagen Conservative?
Many have asked and will ask, “Why am I running as an Undeclared instead of a Republican?”
I am about as conservative as it gets, anyone who knows my family and I, can’t deny that. And if you don’t know that, you will learn by researching my record.
I was eager to register as a Republican in 2007 when I turned 18. I followed in my father’s and conservative family’s footsteps and got very involved with the Alaska Republican Party. I helped my dad Paul Verhagen when he was district 6 chair, organize and run district meetings and served myself as Vice Chair for a time. I have attended all but one State Republican Convention since I was 18; 2008, 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2018. I served on the Alaska Republican Rules Standing Committee for several years.
In 2016, I was nominated as a pledged delegate for Alaska and paid my own way and attended the National Republican Convention in Cleveland Ohio. I have voted solidly for conservatives/republicans every election. I have worked in Juneau as a legislative staffer to four different Republicans. Despite what rumors and lies may arise, I am absolutely not a RHINO or fake conservative, my solid record and hundreds of Republican friends can attest.
Why am I not running as a Republican then? Having been a lifelong registered Republican until yesterday and being involved in the degree I have, I have seen firsthand how the two party systems is failing us. We are all humans “endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights, among which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” I firmly believe this. The by-polarization and division that the two party system is creating and has created is incredibly sad to me.
Political parties are not in the US Constitution, Declaration of Independence or Alaska Constitution for a reason. If elected, I will be doing my best to represent all of my constituents, even if they’re liberal, their opinions count. Everyone counts. I’ve seen far too many political games, working 7 sessions in Juneau simply due to party politics. Just because a good bill came from an opposing party does not mean it is bad for Alaskans or district 6 with all our diversity. I’ve heard sad rhetoric that “the democrats are the enemy!” I and other conservatives may completely disagree with democrats but they are still our fellow Alaskans who should all be treated with respect.
I come from a small town, Nenana, which is quite diverse and yet one of the things I really love about Nenana is rarely do the parties Rs or Ds come up. When challenges arise, our community is typically very united and eager to help all of its citizens regardless of party. I have many friends who are undeclared because they’re also so tired of the two party system. Change will never come if we don’t change.
LIST OF ISSUES
As a father, I want my children and all the children in this state to receive the best possible education. Education is key to helping the next generation to learn from the past and succeed in the future. Education reduces poverty and helps individuals achieve the American dream. We are constitutionally mandated to fund and provide K-12 education statewide and I take that very seriously. We are in a budget crisis and thus funding education to the levels we all would like is extremely difficult, while simultaneously not heaping debt on our future generations. There are ways to improve education in Alaska that don't have to include more money, we can be innovative. I am in favor of hearing from our students, teachers, and staff on all bills that impact the education system because their feedback is crucial to ensuring that proposed bills will be a benefit and not a burden to our students.
Stance on the PFD
The PFD is the people’s money and should be treated as such. Since 2016, the PFD calculation statute has been ignored, and is used as a political bargaining chip. If elected I will not stand for this.
I support a full payback of the PFD’s that have been stolen from the people. Too many elected officials think they can spend your money better than you can and I do not align with that sort of thinking.
We do have a fiscal crisis in this state; I’m not blind to that. We lost $7 billion dollars in a month due to COVID-19 collapsing the stock market. We have multi-billion dollar deficits each year that can’t just be closed by chopping the operating budget in half. That’s the equivalent of eliminating the entire education system and corrections budget, obviously we can’t do that. We must continue to cut the operating budget dramatically while realistically funding education for our children and teachers.
Unless the PFD calculation statute is changed, I will be in favor of supporting the statute as it is and not leaving it up to the legislature to fight over, dominating the legislative sessions and continuing this trend of using the PDF as leverage for moving forward personal agendas. I am not in favor of a change to the PFD calculation but at the same time, if something doesn’t change soon we will be out of money in all accounts besides the PFD Corpus account in roughly three years.
I will do everything in my power to reject a statewide tax on all Alaskans. If it came down to a statewide income tax or changing the PFD formula I would consult very closely with my constituents and vote accordingly, but I believe we do have other options that do not punish the people for the legislatures mismanagement of funds over the past few years.
"Safety First." is a motto for my family's construction business and thousands of businesses globally. Our physical, mental and emotional health is extremely important to enjoy and prosper in life. Safety and health is an individual choice but can be magnified when we unite and support each other. I believe much can and should be done to improve healthcare across our state. There's no silver bullet or we'd have implemented it years ago, but I believe a better system is something we must figure out together as a state, not as a top down approach from the federal government. Healthcare is not in the US Constitution and therefore should be left to the state to make our own decisions of how to better serve our people. Healthcare costs are continually increasing, often causing major mental health issues and often despair once we open the bill on top of the concerns that come from having to go to the hospital. We must change this.
I fully support what's outlined in Alaska's Constitution, "The legislature shall provide for the utilization, development, and conservation of all natural resources belonging to the State, including land, and waters, for the maximum benefit of its people." This does't say we shall not let mines be developed responsibly. It doesn't say we shall not let any business drill for oil in ANWR responsibly. And it doesn't say we shall not harvest any of our timber responsibly. Responsibly is the key here. I believe in treating the earth and its resources with respect, I was taught this as a young cub scout all the way up to becoming an Eagle Scout. I also learned this growing up in Nenana and listening to our Athabaskan elders. This does not mean we don't use our resources, we shall and we must to benefit all Alaskans and provide for our livelihood.
The high standards that the oil companies on the North Slope are held to is impressive. The Trans Alaska Pipeline has basically paid all our bills while simultaneously never killing one caribou. Alaska has prospered financially for nearly four decades due to oil and gas. We hinder ourselves by chasing out the oil companies who are paying their fair share. The myth that we write out big checks to pay the big oil companies is simply not true. Years ago we initiated tax credits as an incentive for smaller oil companies to come into Alaska to invest and have a chance at competing with the big oil companies like BP, Conoco Phillips and Exxon. Only after they actually invested their capitol and money into Alaska and drilled wells would they be eligible. If they ended up making above the threshold they would no longer be eligible for the tax credit.
Do we need to diversify our revenue sources? Absolutely! We have a boom and bust economy because we are so dependent on just oil and gas. We are only using around ten percent of our mining potential in Alaska, we can grow this dramatically. Timber industry in BC Canada is massive, we can definitely improve this industry in Alaska while ensuring that Alaska remains beautiful and healthy. Despite the COVID-19 disaster, Alaska's tourism industry has been growing for years and will continue to do so. Fishing industry in Alaska continues to grow. We should increase in farming, movie productions actually filmed in Alaska, unlimited renewable energy possibilities and much more. However, what we currently have to work with is oil and gas, so we must ensure that industry stays strong while we begin to diversify.
Stance against Abortion
I am 100 percent pro life and always have been. Life is the greatest gift which God can bestow on us through our parents and this must be protected.
Life is the first right stated in our Declaration of Independence. I believe life begins at conception; God and science proves this. If unaltered by us, an embryo will either miscarry or become a human and thus must be protected. Abortion is a human rights violation at the highest degree. The barbaric murder of our babies has gone on far too long and even worse has been funded by our tax dollars in this state.
I believe that in extreme rare cases where rape or incest results in a pregnancy, that the state should spare nothing in helping counsel, support and even pay for the cost of delivering the baby/adoption after. Under such EXTREME cases only, if after counseling and communication with family a woman still chooses to abort her baby, that decision is hers. However, just because a horrible tragedy of rape or incest occurred does not mean anyone should be encouraging others to create a second horrible tragedy by killing an innocent life that did nothing wrong.
In cases where the mothers life might be in jeopardy, doctors state that procedures to deliver the baby prematurely may result in the baby dying but this is not called an abortion.
The choice comes before conception.
Right to bear arms
Absolutely shall not be infringed if I have anything to do with it. Just this session an Anchorage legislator had a bill HB 62 that would allow anyone suspected as unsafe and reported by their neighbors/others to have their guns confiscated by the state. I oppose this bill and any like it. This is Alaska, not just any other state in America, where we must own guns for is often vital and must be protected.
The framers of the Constitution had just fought an extremely oppressive government to gain their freedom. They were thinking of this when they included this amendment. Guns are not only meant for hunting but for self defense and defending freedom.
We already have extensive background checks in place for someone to buy guns so lets do a better job enforcing those laws instead of trying to create more laws and excuses to strip them from the people.